Someone, we’ll never know who, nicknamed our high school deputy principal ‘Albino’ because he was too brown, and the nickname stuck like a grim memory. When we joined form one we found him being called albino and so we jumped on the bandwagon and passed on the name to the new form ones who proudly whispered the name to the form ones after them. It was in bad taste, obviously, and you may choose to descend on me, but it didn’t feel right when I tried to write this story without using that nickname, so here I am, praying that I will still be alive long after this blog post is up.
He did not like that name. The naive form ones who were too dumb to realize it was a nickname would use that name near him and they would end up being slapped so hard till they had nightmares at night. But it wasn’t just the nickname that he hated, he also hated me. I can’t tell why, but he hated me and I hated him.
One night, in form three, a strike broke out and people were baying for his blood. I can’t tell why we were striking, all I know is that the school goons had decided they wanted to have albino’s liver for dinner. He was a staunch Luhya guy with a huge potbelly, so the goons had figured his liver would feed them for the remainder of the second term. As the goons chanted ‘Albino!’ while charging towards his house hurling stones, I decided I wasn’t ready for this shit. I had witnessed so many strikes since I joined that school and I knew the moment the cops arrived, things would be messy, noisy, and there would be casualties.
I decided to jump the fence and run for my life before it was too late. Kumbe albino was also in a life-saving mission. As I approached the fence, someone flashed a torch in my face before jumping over the fence. It was albino. Even with his potbelly, he jumped the fence like he was Jet-lee in spirit. The moment he landed on the other side, he broke into a sprint with me quick on his heels.
I could almost see him praying to God to give him another chance to live. Another chance to take a stab at saving his receding hairline. Another chance to try dumping his ugly suits that looked like deflated parachutes. And I could almost see his wails hurl God out of His sleep to pay attention before calling Angel Gabriel.
“Isn’t that Edward Wafula?” God asked.
“Edward Wafula. The deputy head teacher of that…”
“Oh, you mean Albino?”
“Please, do not use that nickname here. It’s not funny.”
“Wait, it’s a nickname?”
“What do you think?”
“I always thought he’s a—” Angel Gabriel would pause, head tipped to the side. “Oh, right, it’s a nickname. So, what’s he crying about?”
“I think that boy running after him wants to kill him?”
“God, please. If that tiny boy can beat that teacher to death then maybe albino, sorry, Edward, doesn’t deserve to live.”
“The things you say sometimes make me wonder… oh, wait… the boy is heading in a different direction.”
“So he’s not trying to kill him after all.”
“It appears so.”
“Good. You were saying?”
“Never mind. Go to bed. And remember to tell Otile Brown to stop skipping leg days. I wonder whose idea it was to give that man those kinds of legs anyway. He looks like Johnny Bravo”
“You know Johnny Bravo?”
And so as it turned out, I wasn’t planning to kill the deputy principal. But did that stop him from suspending me and lying to my father’s face that I wanted to wipe him off the face of this beautiful earth? Nop! I was lucky my father wasn’t the kind that started whooping your ass the moment you stood accused.
I feel nostalgic as I write this because now I realize that perhaps things weren’t as bad as I thought they were when I put on that yellow shirt and grey pants every morning. I reminisce about my classmates. The crazy ones. The ones who had given up on life before life gave up on them. Dan Juma is one of them.
Dan Juma joined our school in form two first term and left in form two second term. He was an instant hit when he joined because on the first week of joining, our house captain, in a bid to flex his muscle and show he was the shit, put him on the cleaners roaster. Dan Juma told him in no uncertain terms that he was not going to clean shit. They faced each other, chests heaving, foreheads touching and eyes unblinking, both of them taller than the tree outside our dorm. The house captain was the first one to blink and instead of accepting defeat, he mentioned Dan Juma’s name during our open forum, calling him out for being disrespectful.
When asked to step forward by the school principal and explain who he thought he was, Dan Juma said, “Sir, I don’t think who I am because I know who I am. My name is Dan Juma and I refused to clean the dormitory because I am allergic to dust and had the house captain asked me nicely, I would have told him as much, saving us all this trouble.”
We were all stunned. Who was this guy? The principal stripped the house captain title off the house captain for being a bully and inconsiderate.
Turned out Dan Juma was a certified weed smoker. He did not follow the rules. Him being in school was achievement enough. The guy became one of my good friends and I remember after evening preps he would tell me and my other friend, “Let’s pray,” and then after praying he would light a blunt. That’s who he was. That’s what balanced his equilibrium.
Then there was my best friend, Kanta. But we called him Kanda. The name was derived from Canter, the truck, because he was huge and fearless. We used to sleep in the same chamber and we even called it Deadly Chamber. The name Deady chamber was written on the wall and one day, during one of the many strikes, some football player nursing a knee injury decided to sleep in the Deadly Chamber when the rest of us run from the police. The police found him, read the name Deadly chamber and immediately broke his other knee. Deadly chamber my ass.
The school had many outlaws. One of the outlaws, Joel, gave his life to Jesus because he was in love with the CU Chairlady, only for him to backslide and become even worse. Something to do with the seven demons that follow you when you backslide.
As my last days of high school approached, I sold my mattress and bedsheets for a song. I was knackered. My hair was a mess because that was the time I wanted to become a musician and long hair was going to be a part of my accessory. My heart had loved and my heart had been broken by this gorgeous girlfriend of mine who malizad shule while I was in form three. We hugged and fist bumped with my good friends, promising to keep in touch, but now we are nothing but a bunch of strangers. I try looking for them online sometimes. Sometimes I find them and I struggle to find what made us friends, to begin with. Others have no footprints online and I wonder if perhaps I am using the wrong name to search. Should I include Bootylicious Ritah in my search?
I guess we’ll never know.
Phew! Meanwhile, hebu share your memorable high school experiences in the comment sections. And, I apologize to those with albinism for using this name in bad taste. I promise I mean no offence. I was also informed the other day that my high school mate, Yonnah Mwachi, passed on and was laid to rest last Saturday. Yonnah, rest in peace, man.